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How the FOBs, FOGs and FOTs could trip themselves up in the Tory leadership fight

7 August 2014

5:12 PM

7 August 2014

5:12 PM

FOB, FOG or FOT? Which one are you? In this week’s Spectator, Harry Mount examines the machinations of the Friends of Boris as they set their star man up for a return to Parliament and a future Tory leadership bid against the Friends of George and the Friends of Theresa.

It’s worth reminding all three contenders, though, that these long-drawn out contests between party big beasts rarely lead to those big beasts actually taking the leadership. David Davis, Michael Portillo, Ken Clarke and Michael Heseltine could all tell a few tales on that front. After years of moving against one another, spying and trying to convert friends of one contender into being friends of another, the camps might find that a young whippersnapper outstrips them all and bags the prize before their horrified eyes.


Who could that be? It’s not as if there’s no shortage of impressive MPs in the lower ministerial ranks and backbenches who display plenty of potential. Liz Truss, Andrea Leadsom, Jesse Norman, Matt Hancock, and Nadhim Zahawi are just some of the names – but there will be others, too. Sajid Javid is rumoured to be a potential decoy candidate for George Osborne to soak away first round votes from Boris, only for the Chancellor to then take over and storm home.

But there’s a flaw in this Osborne plan, just as there’s a flaw in plotting about the leadership so far in advance of a real contest. As I say in the Telegraph today, much of the Chancellor’s support comes from his habit of rewarding his camp with plum promotions. This is canny, and typical of Osborne’s strategic approach to everything. But it means he is relying on ambitious people sticking to him, rather than getting carried away with their own dreams of the top. And it’s not so much about his personal appeal – which is what unites the FOBs, who want to use Boris to sell Conservatism – as what he can do for someone’s career. So what if he does help Javid all the way to a leadership contest and his protégé then realises that this could be his one shot at the top job, goes for it, and defeats his old boss? Loyalty is rare in politics, but it melts like ice in the oven when something as rare as a leadership contest comes around.

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Show comments
  • Span Ows

    Seems these new acronyms are all the rage although FOB I use every day for work! How about the other parties?
    …you could be FOGGY (friend of George Galloway’s yapping)
    or sheer FOLLY (friend of Labour/Liberal’s yarns)
    or a FOOL (friend of Old Labour)
    you could FOLD (friend of Lib Dems)
    be FOWL (friend of wet Liberal)
    or FOUL (friend of useless Labour)

    childish but fun 🙂

  • Colonel Mustard

    Not much of a prospect. Veterans of dubious worth who seem to have learned nothing or ‘young tartars’ of unknown worth with even less experience. Is there even a natural conservative leader in the country given the apparent propensity for modern Tories to try to out-socialist the socialists?

  • Holly

    I would not vote for Boris.

    He has come in handy to fill your time during the hilidays.
    Bless him.

  • Mynydd

    Forget FOB, FOG, or FOT, if you want to know who will be Mr Cameron’s successor, just ask the man who controls the Conservative party, Mr Crosby.

  • girondas2

    “How the FOBs, FOGs and FOTs could trip themselves up in the Tory leadership fight”

    Dear God, I couldn’t give a t*ss

    • HB

      And yet you have taken the time to click on it, copy the heading, scroll down, paste it into the comments box and then curse about it, twice.

      • girondas2

        It took a couple of seconds – Maybe I’m quicker than you

  • YahYah

    Osborne is not a real candidate. He’s made his choice already, he wanted everyone to think he was the reincarnation of Machiavelli, and no one wants Machiavelli to be Prime Minister, useful as his advice may be.

    Osborne’s strategic response to tactical problems is to submerge the submarine and wait for his opponent to make an error that he can exploit. Would that really work for a PM? He doesn’t strike me as a particularly talented on the spot thinker, his instincts are no doubt beaten and raw from being subjected to years of overthinking and second-guessing.

  • Smithersjones2013

    It’s ‘a bit rubbish’ that a Tory rag like the Spectator is already speculating about Dave’s successor so much when he hasn’t even lost the election yet.

    With ‘friends like the Spectator, Dave doesn’t need enemies!

    PS So the choice is possibly 6 Oxford Mafia (2 Eton mafia) the ‘face’ of the ridiculous and discredited Fresh Start ‘French Tart’ project (Leadsom), an Osborne doormat and Nadhim Zahawi (who?). Nige will be pleased

    • HookesLaw

      The Speccy is not the friend of cameron. Look at who owns it. Are they intersted in supporting any govt? They have theor own fish to fry. This is the glory of an independent press free to regulate itself.

      The Speccy hysteria over this issue is however quite over the top.

      • Wessex Man

        Oh Hooky babe you are so so last year, don’t you have another record to put on?

    • Alexsandr

      Zahawi is damaged goods. Caught fiddling his expenses on his mansion in Tysoe. Too EUphile.

    • Wessex Man

      Yes it’s magic, long may they struggle against each other and undermine Call Me Dave.

      Tories we are coming to get you.

  • LadyDingDong

    As a FOM I am a FONOTA.

    • Span Ows

      FONOTA is also the biggest ‘party’ in the UK!